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Meet Robin Brailsford

Today we’d like to introduce you to Robin Brailsford.

Hi Robin, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I recently realized that my story is one about studios. I can chart my growth and life as a series of singular studios across the United States. Skipping Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and New Mexico… my first most excellent studio in California was at Brown Field Airport on the US/Mexican border. Shaman/man Larry Dumlao convinced me that I could transform the ruin of a WWI Officers’ Mess Hall, into the best studio in America… and so I did – with Larry as an always inspiring and mysterious neighbor, and Pete Evaristo and Anna Cabo as later, fellow Brown Field colleagues. That lasted for 13 exotic years, until our landlord, the city, evicted the artists and Mexicans, and Anna convinced me I was too old not to be owning real estate.

Together we found 80 +/- acres on Planet Dulzura, and with the help of my partner, Wick Alexander’s friend Cliff Keller, I was able to buy 1/3 of it and we were able to build a magnificent studio designed by Jim Brown and Steve Florman. The highest compliment is always when someone tells me it reminds them of Brown Field. My career is charged by these studios. There are also interim ones – Barrett Feed Store to build 3000′ of LithoMosaics for Long Beach Transit; Building D to enter the upper reaches of Scripps Institute of Oceanography and Munk World to create the 2350′ Grand Canyons of La Jolla in Plaza Monolithic Mosaics, and currently the Jamul Ecological Reserve to explore ranching, ruins, and light as it enters the brain/studio. Of course, there are accompanying dogs, vehicles and parties that stand out for each.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I fly with no net. I have never had someone pay me for sick days or vacations, or training or healthcare, until now. A benefit of being over 65 in the time of mass mayhem and global pandemic is not only do I get social security and medicare but stimulus grants and PPP and mortgage furloughs. It is astounding. And it has led to a period of creativity like no other for Wick and me. We feel like we are in grad school. That being said, my very together and talented and 99 year old Uncle Sam died of Covid on my mother’s birthday this week and of course, there is the ever-present faults and foibles in how the public art world is administered, juried, communicated and funded. If only everyone would read my Ten Commandments of Public Art on the Public Address page! www.publicaddressart.com.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
The County of San Diego (thank you Diane Jacobs) awarded me $5000 for marketing and PR this year. We have just launched www.robinbrailsford.com – my first website – and two beautiful new postcards designed by my friend and mentor, Paula Jacoby-Garret. We shall see if these – especially the website – make negotiating the public art waters a bit more lucrative. Please send me feedback on the website, and let me know if you would like to have me send you the postcard… dear readers of SD Voyager.

What’s next?
My big plans are always to finish the big plans that were never finished. You can find these on the website under Dream Projects. The San Diego specific one that stands out is BIRD PARK: The Official Children’s Entrance to Balboa Park, that I have been trying to finish for 30 years. Many may know that 6 acre lemon-wedged shape park at Upas, Perching and 28th Streets as the site of the Bird Park Concerts, but few realize the whole site is landscape into the shape of a Perchiform bird. Why don’t they know? Because it was never finished due to budget hold-backs. The Gizzard Tot Lot with cicada and corn mosaic tables, the Bird’s Eye Gazebo for weddings and the Feather Wing Gardens (et al) are required to complete this major piece of earth art. I have had hopes for Black Birders and the BLM people to adopt the park as their own space for social justice and environmental and climate change… but any one big donor would do it. See the BIRD PARK page in FB too… Another big one is that I would like to have artists take over all the US/Mexican border crossings.

We can start with the one here, at Tecate. Beautiful virgin land at the foot of scared Cuchama is being bought up for and polluted as car and truck storage. The 94 highway that leads there is the Martin Luther King Highway. I would like to see the Federal General Services Administration buy up a zone of border land and let Wick Alexander, Luis Ituarte, Gerda Govine and I build the towering and welcoming MLK monument of opening doors and short wave radio we have designed.

Over shortwave radio it will broadcast MLK speeches and sounds of playgrounds and beaches and music – from the radio station at High Tech High to cars waiting to cross. How COOL would THAT be? In my opinion, every entry to the USA should be welcoming and beautiful and charming – and not the derrier aesthetic that has taken hold since I moved out here 20 years ago. Have you been? It’s awful. The fence is awful, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. We can do better…. We must do better.

I have high hopes and big ideas, indeed. And I am thrilled we have a chance now with Dr. and President Biden in the White House… YES!

Contact Info:

  • Email: robinbrailsford@yahoo.com
  • Website: www.robinbrailsford.com
  • Facebook: LithoMosaics, BIRD PARK, Territory of Magic, RAB Jewelry, Pioneer Modernism

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